Why You Can’t Compare Yourself To These People

Have you ever closed a social media app on your phone and felt better about yourself? No, of course not. That’s the whole point. You’re supposed to be jealous of the people on the beach in Bali. You’re supposed to be anxious about the world after reading the headlines. You’re supposed to feel insecure compared to these parenting influencers who seem to have everything so perfectly handled.

These apps are designed to make you feel vulnerable, hook you, and sell you stuff. While that is great for the social media platforms, it’s not so great for your family. And it’s definitely not great for your mental health.

Jessica Grose had an insightful piece in the New York Times recently questioning these feelings, particularly the insecurity that ‘Momfluencers’ are so good at generating.

“Anytime you feel guilty about not meeting some sort of insane, unachievable demand, ask yourself, ‘Does this help me improve my relationship with my children? And does this help my community?’ If the answer is no to either one, push back. Refuse to feel the guilt and failure that plague so many of us when we’re just trying to raise our families under this broken system. Instead, use that energy to fuel something different: the possibility of a more humane and supportive future for our children.”

Feeling like you suck compared to some parent half-way across the country who you will likely never meet, and who is really just a social media construction, does not make you a better parent. Feeling ashamed of your house–because it’s not spotless, because there is evidence of children in it–as we wrote recently, does make it more of a home. Feeling that you’re not doing enough, that you are not enough…who does this help? Not you, and definitely not your kids.

Comparison is the thief of joy, it has often been said. And that is the least of its sins. Worse, it takes from you your sense of agency. It gaslights you and makes you question what you know is best for your family. It is an insidious force, but one, thankfully, whose influence you control.

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